A lot of cryptocurrency investors, particularly advanced investors, use a VPN to protect themselves. If you’re not familiar with VPNs, this article will tell you what they are, why you should use one, and how to set one up!

What are VPNs?

No surprise, you don't have much anonymity while browsing the web. Sites can see what city you're browsing from, what pages you visit, and so on. That's because your computer and your internet service provider (e.g., Comcast, Verizon) give them that data.

VPNs act as a middleman. Instead of  connecting to a website directly, you connect to a computer somewhere else, which then connects to the website. That extra step tricks the website into thinking that you’re browsing from Switzerland or Singapore instead of Texas. 

VPNs sound high-tech, but they're remarkably easy to use. You can turn them on or off at your whim and toggle your browsing location to whichever city you prefer. VPNs are also so fast you won't even notice they're on (unless you're playing an online video game).

Why use a VPN?

Advanced crypto investors generally use VPNs for three reasons.

First, to buy crypto that’s not for sale in their home countries. For example, if you want to buy BLOCKWICHCOIN, but it's only available on an exchange that sells exclusively to Europeans, you could use a VPN to pretend you're browsing from Europe to get around their restrictions. This is risky, though, for legal reasons and practical reasons, like what if the exchange lets you buy but doesn't let you withdraw without a European passport?

Second, to protect portfolios in case the rules change. Imagine if your government decides to seize everyone's crypto or make crypto illegal altogether. The less data available on your browsing habits in that case, the better.

Lastly, as a bit of extra protection against hackers. While VPNs aren't an end-all solution to hackers, there are situations where they can be helpful. And in crypto, you're dealing with the smartest and most incentivized hackers in the world.

If you only own a few mainstream coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum, then you probably don't need a VPN. But if you do a lot of advanced trading on sometimes-sketchy platforms, they're likely a good idea.

How to use a VPN?

To get started with a VPN, first choose your provider. I’ve personally used Private Internet Access (no relationship or kickbacks) for years without any issues, but there are plenty of others out there, including new blockchain-based ones. PIA charges $40/year, which isn't bad if you have real money at stake.

Second, you install the software on your computer and phone.

Third, you open the VPN software and login with the username and password you chose when you signed up. I access my VPN from a little icon in the top toolbar of my computer, which looks like a little astronaut:

Fourth, you select the city you want your VPN to operate from. If you want basic anonymity, you can choose another city in your home country. If you want more extreme anonymity, you can choose a city in another country (e.g., Singapore, Hong Kong, Malta, Grand Cayman).

Finally, you connect to your VPN! With Private Internet Access, it's simply clicking the large power button. It will turn from yellow to green.

And you're done! You're now browsing the web like a secret agent.

You can leave your VPN on all the time and forget about it or, if you're like me, only use it for special circumstances.

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